During 1759, Jaques Salignac applied for a grant of 500 acres of land for cotton and coffee cultivation. He was granted permission by the Court of Policy. Salignac named this tract of land La Bourgade. In 1807 Thomas Cumming, a Scotsman, became the owner of the estate and renamed Plantation La Bourgade Cummingsburg, after his family, it was a town two miles in circumference and most regularly arranged.
A special feature of Cummingsburg was the provision of fresh water reservoirs. these were filled with small fish and were later planted with Victoria Regia and Lotus lillies by Luke M. Hill. The reservoir in Main Street was filled up and converted into a walkway in 1897. It was named the Queen Victoria Promenade by the Mayor and Town Council in honour of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee (this area is now known as Main Street Avenue). In later years other reservoirs were converted into similar walkways.
In 1864 the western part of Cummingsburg was destroyed by fire. The creation of new streets and redistribution of house lots were several of the plans undertaken to reorganize the destroyed area.
An examination of the nomenclature of this ward of the city reflect rich examples of Guyana’s history. Some Streets such as Waterloo Street; named after Admiral Wellington’s great battle and Victory at Waterloo against the French forces on 18 June 1815 and Carmichael Street; named in honour of General Hugh Lyle Carmichael who served as Governor 1812 – 1813 are indicative of our colonial heritage. Quamina Street (formerly Murray Street named in honour of Major General John Murray) was renamed in honour of one of Guyana’s national heroes.
Other streets derived their names simply from geographic locations to buildings or places. Thomas Street derived its name from its location as the main road to Plantation Thomas. East Street on account of its easterly location in this ward. Cummings Street was formerly known as the back dam (Cummingsburg Backdam) of Plantation La Bourgade. Middle Street also derives its name on account of being the middle dam of Plantation La Bourgade. Lamaha Street was so named because of its northerly direction with main drainage trench of the district. New Market Street simply because it led to the new market. Church Street as it was the primary route used by citizens for access to St. Georges Church.
Yet another elegant wooden building The Ministry of Finance that was formerly the head office of the Transport and Harbours Department.
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, is housed in an elegant wooden building named in honor of an Englishman, who laid the foundation of our research into Amerindian Life and folklore. The building, which was once the residence of Duncan Hutson, an eminent Barrister and legislator, now houses an interesting collection of artifacts and relics of Amerindian culture.
The National Library, previously the Public Free Library was built in 1909. Andrew Carnegie; a Scottish born American industrialist and philanthropist provided financing for the construction and furnishing of the building. The building once housed the Economic Science, Anthropological and Historical sections of the Museum. In 1951, the Museum was relocated to its present site and the Library took over the entire building.
Other fine examples of traditional colonial style architecture of timber can be observed in the Colgrain House, now the Official Residence of the Secretary General of the Caribbean Commonwealth Community.
Cara Lodge now a hotel was known as Woodbine House. This is another example of Georgetown’s elegant wooden architecture. This was once the home of George Anderson Forshaw. The yard contains a Sapodilla tree that was planted by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, on a visit to the colony.
Design & Graphics (GO INVEST), this intricate wooden building with its widow’s walk was designed by H.O. Durham. It was constructed circa 1925 and purchased by E.C.V. Kidman. Subsequently, it was bought by the popular cricketer, John A. Browne, in 1937 and Frederick Kerry in 1945. In 1974 Neville Hubert King acquired it and sold it to the Government of Guyana in 1979. In 1985 the Office of GO INVEST was established.
Another highlight of the city’s landscape is the Christ Church, which was established in 1836, as a result of disagreements between the congregations of the St. Georges Cathedral. The present church has a slight resemblance to the second St. Georges cathedral, which was built in 1842.
The Georgetown Public Hospital occupies 1-½ blocks, it is bordered by Lamaha Street, Thomas Street and Middle Street. The hospital’s oldest section, the Seamans Ward, was first built in 1838. today this hospital is managed by the Ministry of Health and provides a variety of health services to Guyanese free of cost.
The Prime Minister’s Residence is a good example of the mid- nineteenth century wooden architecture, with its Italianate influence; characterized by the square cupola at the top and the portico below it. This building was once the residence of the British High Commissioner.
The Church of the Sacred Heart, constructed of wood was built by Father Schembri, an Italian. A fine example of renaissance architecture, the church was constructed during 1859 – 1861 and was opened at midnight mass on 25 December 1861.
The Cenotaph, dedicated to Guyana’s soldiers who died in service during the wars of 1914 – 1918, 1939- 1945. The Government built the monument through public subscriptions. On the day of the 9th anniversary of the declaration of war with Germany Saturday, 14 August 1923, Governor Graeme Thompson unveiled it. Mr. E. G. Wool ford, Chairman of the War Memorial Committee, handed it over to the acting Mayor Joseph Gonsalves, as its future custodians on behalf of the city of Georgetown.
Next to it is the Georgetown Club, which was home to the crème de la crème of society in the colonial era.
Yet another example of an elegant wooden building is Moray House. Located at the corner of Camp and Quamina Streets this house exhibits the utilitarian Demerara Windows, a distinctive characteristic of Georgetown’s unique architecture.
The Promenade Garden. In August 1851, the Town Council made a decision to create a public promenade for the relaxation of the public. Housed in the compound of the gardens are several monuments such as the bandstand, the oldest in the city and the statue of Mahatma Ghandi. A range of flora complements the surreal surroundings.
The Office of the National Trust, which was established in 1972 to preserve buildings and sites of historic or national interest. Many vernacular features, predominantly the ‘Demerara Windows’ and the ‘Georgian six paned windows’ characterize the building.
The Radha Krishna Mandir a Hindu Temple provides an example of the architectural influence of the east. This is evident by the many spandrels and statuettes depicting gods and religious notions above the main facade of the temple.
Guyana Storesis the largest chain of stores in Guyana. Housed inside are a cornucopia of items ranging from craft to clothing. Prior to nationalization in 1970, the building was known as Bookers Universal.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, formerly known as Avery Housewas the headquarters of the Bauxite Industry of Guyana prior to the creation of this Ministry. Demerara windows and wooden shutters are noteworthy architectural details of this building.
Plaza Cinema was the first theatre in British Guiana. It was built in 1913. This was the scene of many concerts and a house for theatrical displays in the 1930’s by musicians and comedians of the era.
The Independence Park, there is a sordid history here as slaves were once hanged in this area for their participation of the 1823 rebellion. This area was once joined to what is now the Promenade Garden and was used by the British Military forces for rehearsals and other recreational activities.
The Philatelic Museum, This former branch of the Post Office of Guyana was established in 1860 and was closed in 1962 when the Post Office Training School was opened. The building currently houses an Internet Cafe and Post Office operated by the Guyana Post Office Corporation.
The Locomotive Sheds was the main station building of the oldest railway in South America, which opened for service in 1847. The railway reached Mahaica in 1864 and eventually reached Rosignol on the Berbice River, about 59 miles from Georgetown in 1900. It also operated on the West Coast of Demerara and the East Coast of Essequibo from Vreed en Hoop to Parika. The railway was curtailed by half in 1970 and the entire system was scrapped by 1971.It is presently leased by The Guyana Power and Light Inc.